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Palestine: IndustriALL affiliates build solidarity through capacity building

26 September, 2018IndustriALL Global Union and its Turkish affiliate Petrol-İş jointly organized a programme of capacity building in Istanbul for affiliated trade unions in Palestine with activities to strengthen cooperation, support and solidarity.

Union leaders from IndustriALL, Petrol-İş, the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU), the Public Union of Petrochemical Workers in Palestine (PWU), and the Palestine General Union of Electricity and Energy Workers (PGUEW) held a joint programme at the Petrol-İş headquarters in Istanbul from 24-26 September, with the title of “Boosting international solidarity for peace, democracy and fundamental human and labour rights”.

The leadership of Petrol-İş visited Palestine in March and a cooperation agreement was signed for further cooperation.

Conditions in the Middle East are particularly bad for workers, because they confront not just global capital, but also interference by competing powers. Foreign interference causes conflict between people and countries, undermines human and labour rights, and leads to regimes in the region becoming highly repressive. Fundamental human and workers’ rights deteriorate and are violated by global capital and the local regimes that serve it.

Unions in the Middle East see major rights violations, as well as the displacement of people due to conflict, a rise in contract and agency work, and the growing use of migrants as a cheap labour force. The unions see their main priority as defending and improving the lives of workers. Workers’ rights, human rights, health and safety and job security are major concerns.

The situation for workers in Palestine is particularly bad, because they live and work under conditions of severe occupation, which impact every aspect of their lives. The situation has become worse since the election of Donald Trump as US President, and his decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, negatively impacting the peace process. The delegation called for an end to the occupation, and expressed its support for a withdrawal to the 1967 borders and a two-state solution. They also declared their solidarity with the struggle of the men and women of Palestine for labour rights.

“Our cooperation is more than trade union work” said Ali Ufuk Yaşar, general president of Petrol-İş. “Our support for Palestinian workers will continue in their efforts to improve their lives”.

IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan said:

“This meeting is very meaningful for solidarity with the Palestinian people and the working class. Living conditions for Palestinian workers are extremely difficult. I observed it during my visit last year.”

“We must support the fight to end the current unacceptable situation of oppression and hardship, with a lasting peace on the basis of United Nations resolutions. Unions are an important pillar of the social structure, and bring strength and resilience to society.”

At the end of the meeting, the Turkish and Palestinian unions adopted a joint declaration, pledging to fight together for workers’ rights and an end to the occupation.